Many thanks for all the feedback from my posts – both good and bad. In an effort to reduce the bad I thought it might be an idea to properly introduce myself. I’ve lived in Åre (the largest ski resort north of The Alps) for the last 14 years, having been born and bred in England. I’ve been working in sales and marketing for over a decade, but the world changed and I have been one of the many people made redundant. During the last year, I’ve been expanding my hobby of freelance writing and have been lucky enough to be published here and a few other places.
As one of the thousand or so year-round residents of Åre, life is inevitably focused on winter. Right now snow guns are spewing out snow, builders are busy hammering, new slopes are being prepared and companies are busy recruiting staff for the winter season. Nobody minds the tourists coming – we accept it as an inevitable way of life, indeed thanks to our proximity to the Norwegian border and the weakness of the Swedish Kronor, we have tourists almost 365 days a year. By the way, my favorite Norwegian joke – What’s the difference between a Norwegian and a mosquito? A mosquito is only a pain in the arse in the summer.
There is, however, one aspect of the winter that all residents of Åre hate. They stock up on supplies, avoid going out and pay that little bit more attention to locking their doors at night during this time. As I sit here writing this, it is 110 days before this dreaded date. A date when all hell breaks loose, when we are made to feel like second-class citizens in our own home and a date counted down to like a countdown to a dentist’s appointment. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that date as you have surely guessed by now is vecka 9 and more specifically the Sunday arrival date of vecka 9.
For those of you that are not fluently versed in the Swedish tongue, vecka 9 is the ninth week of the year and as Swedes are creatures of habit, every area of Sweden has their own set half-term school holidays and of course week 9 is Stockholm’s turn. It is the week when my secret parking space is taken up by a brand new BMW, our supermarkets are invaded by hyper Stockholm wives who complain that the lobsters are too old and the week where we all get told off it is too cold.
During the winter I have the pleasure of driving a taxi, but on just that Sunday it is a little bit harder to get out of bed and takes an extra snus or two to get through the day. The problem is that all Stockholmers are just so hyper when they arrive. I got a good telling off by a Saltsjöbaden fru at the train station this year, because there weren’t any taxis waiting for her LAST YEAR! In common with other letters of accommodation, most renters have a set time when that accommodation is available. Do you think Stockholmers respect that? No, they arrive early and give the poor soul who is responsible for giving out the keys a dam good dressing down. In 2009, the owner of one of the supermarkets actually got assaulted because one of his 08 customers had to pay for a parking space.
But here’s the most bizarre thing about week 9. Despite the hell we have to go through on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday; on Wednesday Stockholmers become the nicest, warmest and considerate people you have ever met. I guess they have had chance to relax, to unwind and to get into the Jämtland manyana way of life. I like to think as a Jämtland republican, that Stockholmers take a little bit of this feeling home with them at the end of week 9 and this makes life more tolerable during the remaining 51 weeks of the year until they come up again.